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You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity


Former NFL quarterback McPherson examines the roots of masculinity gone awry and how it promotes violence against women.

$18.95 $14.21

What people are saying…

“An essential exploration of what’s holding men and sports back—and how to overcome it.”
Washington Post

“A crucial read for anyone interested in learning more about how sports culture informs limited definitions of masculinity, and how such definitions are destructive for boys and men, and dangerous to girls and women. Don McPherson, a former NFL and college quarterback, urges readers to think critically about the unfair expectations society sets based on gender, and how to upend them.”
The Undefeated, one of The Undefeated’s Can’t Miss Books of 2019

You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity by former NFL quarterback Don McPherson is an examination of society’s traditional definition of masculinity and how this narrow focus creates blind spots that hinder the healthy development of men. Using examples from his own life, McPherson dissects the strict beliefs and unspoken rules that define our views of manhood, the behaviors of masculinity we instill in growing boys, and how the resulting lack of emotional wholeness can lead to violence against women. He passionately advocates against the dangers of viewing such violence as strictly a ‘women’s issue.’ Instead, he argues that the toxicity of the traditional views of masculinity are ultimately culpable.”
The Advocate, included in The Best Queer(ish) Nonfiction Tomes We Read in 2019

“McPherson does not malign masculinity. Moreover, he does not seed guilt and shame unto boys. Thankfully, there is no blind hagiography of women and wanton vilification of men. Masculinity is natural, healthy, and undeniable . . . Soundly and clearly articulated, McPherson has emerged as a measured voice in an oftentimes kinetic and unsettling narrative . . . Highly recommended.”
Jamaica Gleaner

“The Central New York community knows Don McPherson as the Hall-Of-Fame quarterback who led the 1987 SU football team to an undefeated season. But for the past 27 years, he’s also been working on publishing a book that tackles the tough issue of how boys are traditionally raised with macho stereotypes that impacts sexual and domestic violence.”
Bridge Street (WYSR 9, Syracuse, NY)

“Former SU Quarterback Don McPherson isn’t fighting for yards or touchdowns, he’s in the fight to reduce violence against women. He just published a book, You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity.”
WAER (Syracuse University 88.3 FM, Syracuse, NY)

“[McPherson] is also out with a new book entitled You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity. In it, McPherson examines his own life experiences and how they impacted his perception of what it was to be a man.”
CNY Central (NBC3 Syracuse, NY)

“After playing professional football for seven years, McPherson has spent the majority of his life advocating for social justice, using his influence to discuss issues like violence against women and bullying.”
Syracuse Sports Podcast with Brent Axe

Included in Publishers Weekly’s African-American Interest Adult Titles, 2019–2020!

“It’s unlikely that Don McPherson, an All-American college quarterback who also played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Oilers in the NFL and in the Canadian Football League, knew that his shining athletic career would merely be the prelude to his most impressive act of leadership—his life’s work helping men and boys find the courage and skills to become healthier and more well-rounded human beings. He’s been working to transform manhood and masculinity for the past three decades.”
Voice Male Magazine

“This is a call to action that has the potential to provoke conversation and change, and is a unique crossover of sports memoir and astute social commentary. From success as a football player to his mission as a feminist and educator, McPherson has spent decades sharing his story and advocating for a new definition of manhood. This timely and coherent study of gender roles is highly recommended.”
Library Journal, Starred review

“McPherson’s insight and unique perspective as a Black athlete and activist trying to reduce men’s violence against women are likely to find a receptive audience across genders. Drawing from personal and real-life experiences, McPherson explores issues of privilege and sexism. He reminds us that while voices of women must be heard, it will remain a one-sided ‘women’s issue’ unless men are engaged, too. With sports as a relatable backdrop, this book makes an important contribution to broadening our understanding of toxic expressions of masculinity.”

“McPherson wants readers to begin to understand that traditional masculinity is a burden to boys and men, and to help change the narrative handed down to them . . . This is a valuable contribution to the new choir of traditionally masculine men reevaluating themselves on their own terms.”
Publishers Weekly

“One of the outstanding quarterbacks of his generation, McPherson pursued a postfootball career as an advocate for gender-based violence prevention. Incorporating his experiences as an African American man, this authorial debut examines what McPherson terms blind spots of masculinity: attitudes and subtle messages that undermine a healthy equality for women and an accurate self-image for men.”
Library Journal, an Essential Title of 2019

“The thing that makes this book particularly compelling is McPherson’s personal journey, his honesty about how this culture of masculinity shaped his life, and the burden of this. His examples both from his playing days and in his violence prevention work call to mind in the male reader similar experiences, and the tough exterior one learns to put on to not be thought a sissy, a girl.”
Bob on Books

You Throw Like a Girl is one of the most important books ever written by a former elite male athlete. Don McPherson’s willingness to look inward and share his insights and experiences on and off the field represents an invaluable contribution to the growing literature about the ways in which limited definitions of ‘manhood’ cause immeasurable harm to women and men alike.”
—Jackson Katz, author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help

“I have had the good fortune of interviewing and working with Don McPherson many times over the years. His voice and candor in talking about his own journey and the necessary changes we need to raise healthy and whole men and boys is so compelling and powerful. This thoughtful and inspiring book is an important contribution to this timely conversation. I am grateful for Don Mcpherson’s voice, as a feminist and activist for ending violence against women, and as an advocate for reimagining masculinity.”
—Marianne Schnall, journalist, founder of Feminist.com and WhatWillItTake.com, author of What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?

“Don McPherson wrestles with one of the most important questions of our time and one that we have to face head-on in today’s world: what does it mean to be a man? He talks of courage, love, fatherhood, and growing up. Men don’t face this question in a thoughtful way and the result is that we are coming up short. Don’s book helps us to take that journey to real masculinity, not the stereotypical and sometimes dangerous version we see on social media and in film.”
—Mike Rawlings, mayor of Dallas, Texas

“In You Throw Like a Girl, Don McPherson explores more than his own place in the masculine testosterone-driven world of football. He takes the societal norms and boundaries placed on so many men and asks the simple but inevitable question, why? He tackles the critical issues of sports, privilege, and gender that have come to define generations of athletes and transcend sports, in an effort to show us all a better way.”
—Jon Frankel, correspondent, HBO’s Real Sports

“Don McPherson has spent his adult life working to change the perception that girls and women are ‘less than men’ . . . Don is not afraid to discuss the tough issues related to masculinity and sexism. He challenges men to join the fight for gender equality by being ever-growing allies to women. This is a must read.”
—Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport

“[Don McPherson is a] quarterback for a wider community.”


The latest from Akashic’s Edge of Sports imprint, curated by Dave Zirin.

In You Throw Like a Girl, former Syracuse University quarterback and NFL veteran Don McPherson examines how the narrow definition of masculinity adversely impacts women and creates many “blind spots” that hinder the healthy development of men. Dissecting the strict set of beliefs and behaviors that underpin our understanding of masculinity, he contends that we don’t raise boys to be men, we raise them not to be women.

Using examples from his own life, including his storied football career, McPherson passionately argues that viewing violence against women as a “women’s issue” not just ignores men’s culpability but conflates the toxicity of men’s violence with being male. In You Throw Like a Girl, McPherson leads us beyond the blind spots and toward solutions, analyzing how we can engage men in a sustained dialogue, with a new set of terms that are aspirational and more accurately representative of the emotional wholeness of men.

You Throw Like a Girl was referenced in an article about raising boys with outdated ideas of masculinity at Psychology Today.

Listen to interviews with Don McPherson at WAER (Syracuse University 88.3 FM, Syracuse, NY), Coaches on the Rise, The Brian Lehrer Show(WNYC New York, NY), Elvis Duran and the Morning Show (Z100/WHTZ New York, NY), Keeler Show (WIBX 950 AM Central New York), and Syracuse Sports Podcast with Brent Axe.

Read an event preview for You Throw Like a Girl at Westword (Denver, CO).

Watch interviews with Don McPherson at NBC 10 Philadelphia (WCAU Philadelphia, PA), Bridge Street (WYSR 9, Syracuse, NY), CNY Central (NBC3 Syracuse, NY), CBS Philly (CBS Philadelphia, PA), Local 5 This Morning (WFRV, CBS-TV Green Bay, WI), and C-SPAN BookTV.

Watch the trailer for the documentary edition of You Throw Like a Girl, produced by the Media Education Foundation.

Book Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Published: 9/3/19
  • IBSN: 9781617757051
  • e-IBSN: 9781617757860
  • Hardcover
  • IBSN: 9781617757792


DON MCPHERSON—an All-America quarterback at Syracuse University who went on to play professionally in the NFL and Canada—began his work on gender-based violence prevention in 1994 at Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society. He has served on the boards of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the NCAA Sexual Assault Task Force, and the NCAA Board of Governors Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence. His educational programs and lectures have reached over one million people in more than three hundred colleges and communities throughout North America. You Throw Like a Girl: The Blind Spot of Masculinity is his latest work.

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